Thursday, September 28, 2017

What We're Eating Around Here

An old friend wrote to say she missed my recipes and tales of cooking for the family. Well, over the years the family grew up. Italo moved away and married Sarah and has two babies. Marco moved away. Chepa, wife/ex-wife, moved away 16 years ago. Madeleina is 20 now and has a house she rents at her college as a junior. So there isn't the same urgency at cooking. But still, addicted to the hope that they, or some of them, will come by on a given night, I always have stuff I can hustle together in a half-an-hour. Plus, the occasional friend stops by and can be convinced to stay for dinner. So there is still pretty good food going around. (In private I add that when I go shopping and then cook it is the space between work and non-work and vital to my brain so that when it's time to sleep my brain is not full of work!!!!!)
So let's see: This week, I was dying for shrimp, so I bought large ones, roasted their skins then added water/onion and tomato ends and reduced that to make really good sauce base, then sauteed the shrimp with scallions, tomato, onion, nice peppers a friend brought, and the sauce and served it over rice. Just four or five shrimp, and not much rice. Had that with sauteed spinach--sauteed in the shrimp pan juices.
But the girls came over--Chepa with Sierra and Alexa--11 and 9, with my granddaughter Taylor Rain, 7--and they wanted jasmine rice with lime, steak, well done, and cucumber with lime and salt. I had the ingredients and tossed it together quick as a whip! Was good, too.
Tuesday I was dying for stuffed poblano peppers. Bought the peppers, cleaned them, parboiled them. At the same time I made rice with garlic. When the peppers were parboiled and put under cold water, I sauteed about 1 pound of ground chuck in garlic--along with the left over, minced steak from last night--diced onion, tomato, then added white vinegar, fresh cilantro, achiote (red colorant from Central and South America that makes white rice yellow or reddish), good salt and butcher ground pepper. I added rice to that and finally stirred in good shredded cheddar cheese. Then I took that and stuffed the poblanos to overfill, then baked them at 325 for about 40 minutes.
While that was going on, Chepa announced she was coming with the kids, so I had to come up with something for them--stuffed poblanos was not going to do it for kids--so I roasted chicken drumsticks and made gravy, which was fine with them.
Wednesday, I was dying for stuffed zucchini, so I made it: Cut good organic zuccinini in half, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds (sorry, but we need room for the stuffing), and then sauteed garlic and scallions in olive oil, added diced red pepper and a nice hot pepper the name of which I don't remember. When that was all good, I added a minced tomato, then seasoned breadcrumbs. When that was done I added a bit of unsalted butter, some organic vegetable stock, and really good asiago cheese, minced. Himalayan sea salt and cracked black pepper and then I stuffed the zucchini, topped with more parmesan and lots of lime juice.
I'd just put it in at 350 when Chepa called to say the kids were coming. Dang! She said she wanted fried chicken. Huh? I have not made real deep fried food since I left the restaurant business in 1988--except for once or twice--but I was stuck. So I cut up chicken breasts, put vegetable oil in a good pan at 8 on the stove--with 10 as the highest--then floured/egged/breaded the chicken pieces. I added garlic, oregano, majoram, and fresh basil to the breading, added salt and pepper to the flour and fried that shit. Realized I had a bit of steak left over so I cut that thin and fried that too, then made Chepa a blackened filet of salmon and everybody had a feast--with salad, cucumber with lime, and asparagus par boiled then sauteed with garlic and balsamic vinegar on the side.
But the kids wanted rice too, and they don't eat day old rice. So I took the old rice and made Arroz Chaufa--Peruvian style Chinese rice. You put garlic, oil, onions in a saute pan. You add diced frankfurters. When the franks and done and the veggies no longer identifiable, you add left over rice. When that's good and hot you add three eggs and stir them in. When they are near done as scrambled egg bits in the rice mix, you add soy and a bit of ginger and voila! You have Arroz Chaufa.
Today I knew I was off the hook. Chepa didn't call and it was 4 PM, too late to cook. Then she called: "We're at the corner. What's for dinner?"
Damn. I'd bought thin cut butt roast to try the chicken fried steak again, since it was good yesterday and I wanted to cement the recipe to my mind if was as good the second day as the first. So I put on rice, got the cucumber ready, put on the old oil--saved in a coffee tin after filtering--and got busy. Of course, Chepa came in, said she didn't want to eat the same meal as yesterday, so she made a Peruvian dish, Lomo Saltado--steak with garlic, vinegar, onions, tomatoes, and fresh french fries. We worked side by side, me at mine, she at hers. Hers smelled great and I stole bites. She thought my steak was fantastic, so she stole a couple of pieces.
The girls all ate well. Chepa ate well and took a bag of food home. I will eat tonight while watching a football game. Love those big boys in tight pants, as my Madeleina tells me.
Bon Appetite!!!

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